I apologise for my big lack of photos in the last post. Let me make it up to you by overloading you with photos in this post. I’ll start with the first day we were there.
Day 1 – Pictou
We set off in search of Pictou, a small town of no more than 5000 people – or so the 16 year old documentary stated in the museum we visited today. The reason for going to this museum was that it was about Nova Scotia’s Scottish heritage.
In 1743, 3 years before the English would win a battle against the clans of Scotland and break their way of life, a number of Scots decided to take fate into their own hands and emigrate to Canada. One of the clans that left was the Campbell clan and that is the clan that my family are descended from. So I went a little picture crazy whenever I saw the tartan.
Nice tartan isn’t it? I saw a dress in Primark once that has this pattern on and wasn’t impressed. The Campbells were one of the most formidable clans in Scotland at one point and their tartan is better than that.
Can you imagine leaving loved ones and the only land that you’ve ever known based on so little information? A ship called ‘The Hector’ was due to set sail across the Atlantic in order to give the people of Scotland a better way of life and land that was theirs alone to tend to. Above that, they were being promised a life without the English making it impossible for them.
In the 1830’s, two of the survivors from the journey got together and tried to memorise all of the passengers that boarded that ship. That list is what they managed to come up with. There were 189 passengers in total, but only 188 passengers paid to be there. A bagpipe player was allowed on board eventually after much persuasion from the rest of the passengers. They decided that they desperately needed the jollity that he would bring.
Here is me and Dan paying homage to him.
So the passengers were on this ship for 11 weeks. Those weeks were incredibly difficult and no one expected to stay on board for that long. The ship was never meant to hold 189 passengers and there were meagre rations to begin with. There were 18 deaths from a smallpox outbreak on board, of which most of the casualties were children. On top of all of that, they suffered a massive storm along the way that set them back a whole two weeks by the time the weather cleared.
Dan wanted me to get in one of those beds to demonstrate how small they were, with the insinuation that I would do the best job of demonstrating that, the cow! Entire families would be crammed into one bed and partitions were put up to give the single ladies some modesty. Single men weren’t given a bed and had to sleep wherever they could. There seems to be an obvious solution to this one – sharing is caring right?
These photos are a little randomly placed, as there’s not a great deal of background information to give on them, but I thought they were great to see anyway. The next photo made me cringe.
Canada seems a divided country when it comes to the royal family. Some people love them, and some hate them. When Prince Charles gets that preoccupied by some wooden boobs I wonder how anyone in Canada could form a decent opinion of him. They laminated that bloody photo in A3 and stuck it right in the middle of all the items in the museum for all to see and for years to come!
Camping in Canada is very different from camping in Iceland. Apart from the obvious temperature differences, there were a lot of cultural differences as well. Camping in Iceland was a fairly modest affair, with most campers having anywhere between a tent and basic amenities to a small camper van. In Canada, these people knew how to camp in style – there were camper vans bigger and more luxurious than most UK houses! And the campsites were full of sound; children running around, fires spitting, people talking, fireworks in the evening (it was labour day) and music coming out of car radios and portable speakers. Travelling is subjective and many people would scream at me for saying this, but I preferred it. I like my independence fiercely, but I feel far more secure being surrounded by people even if I’m not in the mood to talk to anyone. That and I’ve said before that I love staring at people.
As the night was drawing in, we decided to take a walk around the campsite and go to the loo’s before heading to bed. We overheard one of the louder camping groups singing folk songs and looked over to see one of the most luxurious camping set ups in the whole place. They’d made an alcove for themselves with wind breakers and all sat in fleece lined chairs, and were all singing at the top of their voices. Dan linked arms with me and we danced around in circles until we noticed that their attention had turned to us. They all lifted up their arms and beckoned us into their alcove, where we spent the next three hours or so in their company. It turns out they were a group of 7 or so couples which have known each other for years when the men used to work in the military. From May to October, they would go camping every single weekend around Nova Scotia and would play games, drink and sing. It was really interesting to see how little they thought of welcoming strangers, and they made sure we were supplied constantly with drinks and shooters (shots to you and me) and showed us the hospitality we had come to expect here.
Day 2 – Into The Wild
The title above is of a film made in 2007 about a guy named Chris who runs away from his privileged life in search of solitude and enlightenment. It felt like me and Dan were attempting to do a little Welsh version of the film last night. We stopped off into a very empty campsite and tried to book a pitch to set our tent quickly as the sun was setting. The owner, who sat there and nodded at me for five minutes before putting his hearing aid in, was no longer in charge of taking money and told me I had to use the phone outside to book. After an hour of trying that he eventually accepted cash and let us use the most secluded spot at the top of the campsite. It was a pretty spot!
After parking up, we noticed a Yurt behind us. No one was around and the sun was setting – who was going to come and claim it at that time? Even the old man had gone home! It was surprisingly easy to break into and it looked a lot comfier than our tent was going to be, so we decided to claim it for the night. Some of the Canadian culture must have rubbed off on us because we were wracked with guilt for most of the night, and being so far away from anyone else meant that I couldn’t blame every little noise I heard on some neighbours moving about. At about 3 o clock in the morning, I heard a howl and decided that sleeping was hopeless. We ended up crawling into the car at 6 in the morning and slept for a few hours before setting off.
Day 3 – Beginning of the Cabot Trail
After a difficult nights sleep, we decided to eat somewhere local and cheap. Every person we asked pointed us to this place.
The food was really good and the staff were really friendly. I don’t get the toilets though – is that a thing in Cape Breton?
It was very difficult deciding not to travel all day and night in order to see as much of Nova Scotia as possible, but we decided to spend the rest of our time here on the Cabot Trail. The Cabot Trail travels along the North-East tip of Nova Scotia and is considered to be one of the more beautiful parts of the province.
We made out way to a place called Ingonish, which is that bit that looks like a capitol E on the East side of the trail. We’d decided to sleep in the car for the rest of the trip because I preferred the idea of metal being in between me and a Moose instead of just fabric, plus it allowed us to arrive at campsites after dark. We were driving along the road, when we noticed a sign saying ‘Kayaking’. We figured we would only be able to kayak in Cape Breton the once so we pulled in and paid for a two hour session.
We were lucky that it was the perfect day for kayaking and we managed to see some amazing wildlife, as well as be able to look along the lake bed as the waters were so still. We were told that there was an Eagle’s nest, but not to expect to see the Eagle itself as the sightings were becoming really rare.
We were on our way back, and I was steaming through the waters when I heard Dan gasp “Liz, Liz, LIZ STOP”. We looked up and just about saw the outline of this majestic thing.
I’m really proud of the next photo I took. It took a very steady hand, but it was also down to the fact that the Eagle had resigned itself to knowing that we were following it and gave up trying to fly to the next branch over.
We’ve seen some amazing wildlife since being in Canada, but I get why the USA chose this bird. You wouldn’t mess with this bird. We watched it devour a fish while it was still wriggling and didn’t break when making eye contact with us.
Day 4 – Ingonish Peninsula
To start the photos off, this photo shows the beginning of the hike and I wanted to put it here to give you an idea of how narrow this peninsula is. It’s about 2km long, and for much of it we could see the sea on both sides.
These photos are just to show you the general beauty of the hike. We were lucky that the skies were crystal clear that day so we could see for miles. The beauty was timeless here and it was amazing to step into a part of the world where the animals ruled. Nature was pretty much untouched apart from the paths that we walked on and the trees were HUGE!
This second lot of photos were some of the wildlife that we saw. Most of the animals darted across the path at lightening speed so we didn’t get a chance to take a photo of them. We didn’t end up seeing Moose, Bears or Coyotes and I’m ok with that. The photo of the tree was showing a disease that some of the trees were suffering here, where they were developing tumours.
This third lot of photos shows one big thing that Dan has developed since we got out here. When we went on our first holiday, I leant over our cruise ship to look at the deck below. When I turned around, Dan was pale and warned me not to do that in front of him again or he’ll be sick. Now he’s looking over the edge by himself and being a lot more daring than me!
He’s also becoming a lot more daring in his photos of me. I found this lovely collection going over the photos just now. This was on the way back when I was finished with idea of taking photos and just wanted to walk. I particularly hope he’s pleased with himself for that last one. For the record, it was 30 degree heat and I was wearing jeans. I figured if finding shade and chilling out was good enough for lions in Africa, it was good enough for me.
Above all of what we saw during the day, the most amazing part of our camping trip happened at night. In most parts of the UK, you can see the big dipper on a clear night, alongside Orion’s Belt and maybe Cassiopeia. Here, they shone vividly and were joined by clusters of other stars and across the middle of the sky was the more gentle glow of the milky way. On one hand I wish our camera was capable of taking a photo of it, but on the other I’m glad that I’ll have to rely on my memory for it. I won’t forget seeing the stars like that and it’s what I’ll use as my pull when I try to convince you to come out here!
To end this blog, I’ll add just a few more photos. When I said we didn’t see any Moose or Bears, I wasn’t telling the whole truth.